Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rancho Diablo: Hangrope Law

Another fast-moving western adventure no available. Check it out! Hangrope Law (Rancho Diablo) eBook: Colby Jackson: Kindle Store

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: The Quick...and The Dead

Fair warning on this one. When David Cranmer asked me for a story to publish at BTAP, I told him I had one that might suit but that it wasn't one of those nice stories that people seem to expect from me, one that their grandmothers liked but that they wouldn't read if you put a gun to their heads. I told him it might outrage, disturb, or repulse his readers. Or it might do all three. He seemed okay with that, so I sent him the story. He liked it a lot, so I told him to run it. If you read it, be sure to leave a comment at the bottom so David will know how you liked it, or didn't.

Do You Feel Lucky, Punk?

Police pull guns on, arrest boy, 12 | "POLICE pulled their guns on a 12-year-old boy playing in a yard in the Northern Territory because they thought he was hiding behind a fence with a rifle.

The 'weapon' was a broken 1m-long curtain pole with black duct tape, the Northern Territory News reports."

Today's Christmas Gift Suggestion for Everyone on Your List

TCM Remembers

Top Suspense

In case you've forgotten, "The Chase" is the round robin story by the members of Top Suspense Group. You can get the whole story here, and remember that if you can figure out who wrote what, you can win free books. Take a look.

Another of My Old Reviews Has Surfaced

I talk a little about some books by Richard Deming.

This Just In

Found a new photo of me at the Texas Literary Hall of Fame induction. That's James Ward Lee on the left, then organizer Bunny Gardner, me, and Jeff Guinn.

Or He Could Just Have Bought a Smart Car

Quirky News | Orange UK: "A retired mechanic spent three months making his Mini car even smaller - so that it fits in the hold of his motor home.

Lester Atherfold, 67, from New Zealand, trimmed the 10ft long British classic car to a mere 7ft 10ins.

He sliced 2ft from the middle, narrowed the chassis, and fitted a new transmission, sub-frame, clutch and dashboard.

The transformation cost just £95 and the 1100cc mini Mini still does 75mph."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.


Murray Leinster, The Planet Explorer, Avon, no date

Top 10 Evil Computer Movies

Top 10 Evil Computer Movies!

Link via SF Signal.

Today's Western Movie Poster

Nine Writers Carrying the Torch for Men’s Fiction

Nine Writers Carrying the Torch for Men’s Fiction | The Art of Manliness: "Gentlemen, let’s face it: Hemingway is dead. Likewise with Faulkner, Mailer, Updike, Cheever, Miller, Carver, and the rest of the greats who made a living writing the stories of men in the golden age. But just because the big men of letters have fallen doesn’t mean that letters for men have gone down with them. There’s plenty of manly literature outside the icons, and plenty of writers still making books for the male mind. Here’s a sampling of living, breathing authors to look out for the next time you’re in need of a manly read:"

Soon to Be a SyFy Movie!

MINA Breaking News - Sharks Wary of Drunk Serbs: "Dragan Stevic of Serbia is the new Egyptian hero who killed a large shark which had previously terrorized numerous tourists (injured 4 and killed 1) at the famous Egyptian resort Sarm El Sheikh.

The Serbian hero was too drunk to remember what had happened, though one of his friends who witnessed the incident explained it all for the Belgrade based media.

Dragan Stevic was dubbed by the Egyptian media as 'Shark El Sheikh' and thanked him for saving their tourist season."

Some Might Have Thought It Was Worth It

Bone marrow registry used "sexy scientist" models to get DNA swabs | "Caitlin Raymond International, a bone-marrow registry in New England, decided that the best way to get more DNA swabs — which would mean more potential donor matches in their records — would be to appeal to a man's libido. So they hired models, decked out in the 'sexy scientist' uniform of heels, short skirts, and lab coats, to approach men at malls and ballparks and flirt with them until they handed over the DNA goods. The only problem? They didn't exactly tell the guys what they were getting into.

The men knew they were signing up for the potential-bone-marrow-donor list, of course; I doubt even a sexy woman saying you'd be 'a hero' would convince a straight guy to give away his DNA without knowing why. But they didn't mention that the price of processing each swab — approximately $4,300 — would be charged against the men's insurance."

The Santa Clause 2

Friday, December 17, 2010

Neva Patterson, R. I. P.

Neva Patterson, 90, Actress in ‘Affair to Remember’ - "Neva Patterson, an actress who was seen in the movie “An Affair to Remember,” the Broadway play “The Seven Year Itch” and the television miniseries “V,” died Tuesday at her home here. She was 90.

The cause was complications of a broken hip, her daughter, Megan Lee, told The Los Angeles Times.

Ms. Patterson was already a Broadway veteran when she was cast as Cary Grant’s fiancee in the 1957 romance “An Affair to Remember,” starring Grant and Deborah Kerr as a couple on a rocky path to true love.

She originated the role of Helen Sherman, a woman whose husband (Tom Ewell) fantasizes about cheating on her with a neighbor (Vanessa Brown), in the hit 1952 Broadway play “The Seven Year Itch.” (Her role was played by Evelyn Keyes in the better-known movie version with Ewell and Marilyn Monroe.)"

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Captain Beefheart, R. I. P.

BBC News - Don Van Vliet, aka 'Captain Beefheart', dies aged 69: "American musician and painter Don Van Vliet, best known by the stage name Captain Beefheart, has died aged 69.

Van Vliet's death in California, from complications from multiple sclerosis, was announced by the Michael Werner Gallery in New York.

Van Vliet was 'one of the most original recording artists of his time', the gallery said in a statement."

Hat tip to Richard Prosch.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Angry woman releases possum outside Houston City Hall

Today's Christmas Gift Suggestion for Everyone on Your List

Part 12 of the Top Suspense Group Round Robin Story

Top Suspense Group: The Chase--Part 12

And don't forget the contest. This is it, folks. All 12 chapters have been published. If you haven't read them, give it a shot. I think you'll get a kick from the story, and then you can try to guess who wrote what. Have fun!

Roger Ebert's Top 10

The best feature films of 2010 - Roger Ebert's Journal


Robert Silverberg, Master of Life and Death, Avon, 1968

Don't Mess with Texas

Retailer praised after killing 3 robbers in Houston | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "In the back room of a humble jewelry store and pawn shop in Houston's East End Thursday afternoon, a gunman tied Eva Castillo's wrists tightly — too tightly. She complained of the pain, so he loosened the bindings. Then Castillo's husband was ordered at gunpoint to put his hands behind his back.

But Ramon Castillo had a surprise for the gunman and two cohorts, who had announced they were robbing the business.

Castillo pulled a pistol from his waistband and shot the gunman dead. Then he grabbed a shotgun from his office and engaged in a shootout with the other two armed robbers.

When it was over, all three robbers were dead — and Castillo, though shot at least three times, was still standing, having successfully defended what was rightfully his."

Just Keep Off Our Lawns

Emotional intelligence peaks as we enter our 60s, research suggests: "Older people have a hard time keeping a lid on their feelings, especially when viewing heartbreaking or disgusting scenes in movies and reality shows, psychologists have found. But they're better than their younger counterparts at seeing the positive side of a stressful situation and empathizing with the less fortunate, according to research from the University of California, Berkeley."

Today's Western Movie Poster

'Tis the Season

Here in Alvin, Texas, we put our recyclables out by the street (not by the curb; we don't have curbs) twice a month. Yesterday was the day, and I carried the big green plastic bin out and set it at the end of the driveway. A couple of hours later, the truck hadn't come by for the stuff, so I took another plastic bottle out so I could drop it in the bin. When I got there, I could tell at a glance that things had changed. There wasn't as much stuff in the bin as when I'd put it out. It took a second glance for me to realize that someone had gone through the bin and taken out all the aluminum cans. I wonder if the same person had done down the length of the block doing the same thing. It's a new way to pick up Christmas cash, or maybe whoever took the cans needed the money for a hamburger. The whole thing made me feel a little sad.

10 Strange But True Christmas Crimes

10 Strange But True Christmas Crimes

Billy the Kid Update

AFP: US governor hints at pardon for Billy the Kid: "An outgoing US state governor hinted Thursday that he could soon give a posthumous pardon to Billy the Kid, the infamous 19th-century Wild West outlaw.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who stands down next month, said his office had received a formal petition, which he will consider and make a decision on before the end of the year.

'As someone who is fascinated with New Mexico's rich history, I've always been intrigued by the story of Billy the Kid and, in particular, the alleged promise of a pardon he was given by Territorial Governor Lew Wallace,' he said."

Peru Update

Yale Returns Machu Picchu Artifacts To Peru : NPR: "After nearly 100 years, a collection of antiquities from the Inca site of Machu Picchu is going home. The artifacts have been at the center of a long and bitter custody battle between the government of Peru and Yale University."

Forgotten Books: GLITTERBURN -- Heywood Gould

Okay, so when I wrote about Double Bang for FFB a couple of weeks ago, I said I'd be reading another book by Heywood Gould soon. I wasn't kidding.

Glitterburn (from 1981) is narrated by Josh Krales, a reporter for a fictitious New York newspaper called the Event. Suddenly he appears to be a magnet for murder. Someone's murdering billionaires, and Krales is always right there on the scene. He files stories, and the paper kills them. His editor offers to send him to Hawaii on vacation because the stories will never be published. Krales doesn't believe anyone can cover up the events he's witnessed, but it happens. Krales being the kind of guy he is, he keeps pushing. And (you guessed it) winds up in Big Trouble.

I'm not sure whether this book will appeal to everyone. I found it very funny, hilarious in spots, and chock full of bitter over-the-top satire. The whole thing's so far over the top and outrageous, in fact, that some readers might be turned off. Not me, though.

Here's a tender scene that occurs just before Krales and femme fatale Athena Stuart go up to his apartment for steamy sex. If you like this kind of thing, there's plenty of it. If you don't, you'd be better off skipping the book:

A legless Korean accordion player serenaded us with "Moonlight Bay"; I tinkled a few coins at his feet. Up the block in front of the funeral home, a fat woman in black was lifting her veil to throw up on a car. Two ancient homosexuals were groping each other in the doorway of the bakery. Yes, it was definitely a night for love.

That's some of the milder stuff. I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to Gould's new novel, The Serial Killer's Daughter, which comes out next spring.

The Santa Clause

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Best Films of 2010

The best films of 2010 | Best Of 2010 | Best of | The A.V. Club

Sounds Like a Good Idea to Me

Danish politician calls for topless women to scare away immigrants | Courier Mail: "FOOTAGE of women sunbathing topless at Danish beaches should be included in tourism videos to scare away extremists, politician says."

And Stay off Her Damn Lawn!

Granny with skillet KOs intruder | "Police in Hutchinson say a 71-year-old woman used a frying pan to knock out a man who attacked her.

Police Sgt. John Moore say a 25-year-old man talked his way into the woman's home shortly after 7 a.m. Saturday, claiming he was homeless and had nowhere to go.

Moore says when he tried to attack the woman, she fought back and 'beat him down with a frying pan.' When police arrived, he was unconscious on the floor."

An Interview with David Cranmer, and a Contest

Women of Mystery: Giving Away BEAT to a PULP: Round One!

Blake Edwards, R. I. P.

The Associated Press: Director Blake Edwards dies in Southern California: "Blake Edwards, the director and writer known for clever dialogue, poignance and occasional belly-laugh sight gags in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's,' ''10' and the 'Pink Panther' farces, is dead at age 88.

Edwards died from complications of pneumonia at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, said publicist Gene Schwam. Blake's wife, Julie Andrews, and other family members were at his side. He had been hospitalized for about two weeks."

Hat tip to David Cranmer.

Blake Edwards, R. I. P.

The Associated Press: Director Blake Edwards dies in Southern California: "Blake Edwards, the director and writer known for clever dialogue, poignance and occasional belly-laugh sight gags in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's,' ''10' and the 'Pink Panther' farces, is dead at age 88.

Edwards died from complications of pneumonia at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, said publicist Gene Schwam. Blake's wife, Julie Andrews, and other family members were at his side. He had been hospitalized for about two weeks."

Hat tip to David Cranmer.

Read Any Hugo Winners?

Renovation - Home: "Take a Survey Which of these classic Hugo Winning novels have you read?"

I've read all but one. Started The Snow Queen and didn't finish it. Very sad to see where the results rank the Simak novel.

Will the Persecution Never End?

No, We're Not Kidding: Paris Hilton starts her own MotoGP team — Autoblog: "We wish we were kidding. We really do. It's not anywhere near April 1st yet, and the reports seem to be true: Paris Hilton – yes, that Paris Hilton – is launching her own motorcycle racing team."

Hat tip to George Kelley.

Part 11 of the Top Suspense Group Round Robin Story

Top Suspense Group: The Chase--Part 11

And don't forget the contest. We're coming to the end now, and I'm wondering if anybody's figured out which parts I wrote. I'll give you a clue. At this point they've both been published.

The Curse of the Wendigo -- Rick Yancey

It's been about a year since I commented on The Monstrumologist. Now Pellinore Warthrop and Will Henry, his indispensable assistant, are back and searching for a new kind of monster. Except that it's the kind of monster that Warthrop refuses to admit can exist. Vampires, werewolves, the Wendigo: just figments of the imagination, not real monsters.

There's a lot going on here. It's time for the annual monstrumolgist convention in New York City, where Van Helrung (sound remotely familiar) is about to ask the assembly to accept those supernatural creatures I mentioned as being worthy of their research. Warthrop has been asked to refute him. And then Warthrop's former fiancee, now married to the man who at one time was Warthrop's best friend, John Chanler, to find her husband, who's lost in the Canadian wilderness, where he'd gone to seek the Wendigo.

Warthrop refuses, then relents. He and Will Henry set off and have quite an adventure in the Frozen North. They return with Chanler, or with something resembling him. Van Helrung insists that Chanler is now a Wendigo. Warthrop says that's just superstitious nonsense. And then the killings begin. If the harrowing scenes in the Canadian wilderness weren't enough for you, the scenes in New York should fill the bill. This book has enough blood, guts, and gore to fill the pages of every E. C. horror comic ever publishes. Trust me. It's dark matter, indeed, darker than most of the dark crime novels you're ever likely to read. And it's a YA novel. As I mentioned in my previous review, YA novels have certainly changed since I was a YA. (In spite of all that, the scariest creature in the novel, to me, is a girl named Lilly.)

By the way, I won this book in a contest at Bookgasm, a mighty fine site.

Now for my picky complaints. I advise you to skip this part, because it's just the nonsensical raving of a crotchety old retired English teacher. So here's the thing. Sentences like this one drive me nuts: "I shared with him the latest gossip gleaned from the society pages (he held a strange fascination for them) . . . ." I mean, Warthrop's a weird guy, all right, but are we really expected to believe that the society pages were fascinated by him? And then there's this: "As the possessor of the sole shovel, the honors of the dead guide's internment fell to me." Okay, so there's a dangling modifier there, but I think I'm bothered just as much by the use of internment. Okay, that's enough quibbling. Other than a few things like that, I enjoyed the book.

Great Photos, Video

Niagara Falls ran dry: Photos show moment iconic waterfall came to standstilll | Mail Online

Roman Statue Update

'The sea gave her back': Wonder in Israel as ancient Roman statue buried for thousands of years is uncovered by storm | Mail Online: "A long-lost Roman statue buried for thousands of years has been unearthed by massive winter storms that have lashed the coast of Israel this week.

The mysterious white-marble figure of a woman in toga and 'beautifully detailed' sandals was found in the remains of a cliff that crumbled under the force of 60mph winds and enormous 40ft waves."

The Twelve Days of Bookmas -- Day 12 #12daysbooks

This is the last day of the big contest at BookEnds. If you know the answer, click on the link and leave your answer in the comments to win free books. Or just click on the link to show the agents that I'm a power in the blogosphere. Another incentive is that one of my clues led to the winner the other day. Here's today's puzzle, followed by my clue.

I thought it only appropriate to make today’s puzzle holiday-themed...

Most of you who follow the blog already know that my 5-year-old son, Nicky, is autistic. Well, Nicky LOVES books. He spends a lot of time inside his own head and has difficulty paying attention in class, but his teacher tells me that there’s one part of the school day when he’s able to sit quietly and really listen: Storytime. He’s already reading quite a bit on his own. He loves decoding words and sounding out letters. It’s most definitely one of his strengths.

But one of his many challenges is recall. He has trouble remembering what happened at school that day, what family members we visited with over the weekend or what gifts he received for his birthday. He’s so caught up in the adventures going on inside that little head of his, that he’s less invested in the outside world around him. So to work on his memory, I decided to use some “book therapy.” :) For Christmas I’ve bought him several chapter books that I can read to him piece-by-piece and then review with him every night what we read the day before. Hopefully his love of books will encourage him to flex his memory muscles a little more.

I bought him a boxed set of the first four books in a series that Jessica recommended after she’d read them to her son.

And I bought him a special “read-aloud” edition of one of my favorite classic children’s books.

What books will Nicky be getting for Christmas this year??

My clues: #1, Some climbing required; #2, Bing Crosby's dreaming


William Goldman, The Silent Gondoliers, Ballantine, 1985

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Houston No. 1 on Forbes' list of the nation's best shopping cities | | Local News: "Take that, Big Apple! When it comes to shopping, the Bayou City is tops, according to Forbes magazine.

Houston came in as No.1 on Forbes’ first-ever list of the top 25 shopping cities in the U.S.

Houston was joined in the rankings by four other Texas cities: Dallas is number 3, San Antonio is number 8, Austin is ranked number 12 and El Paso is 25th."

If You Happen to be in Houston This Evening

Bill Crider: Damn Near Dead 2: Live Noir or Die Trying - Page 1 - Calendar - Houston - Houston Press

I'm Sticking with the Plain Ones

Tired of BBQ chips? Here comes haggis - "Scotland's national delicacy, haggis, will soon be available to American snack hounds in potato chip form, a North Carolina importer said."

Today's Western Movie Poster

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

America's best and worst commutes : Bundle: "Bundle determined that the worst commute in the country, in terms of cost and wasted productivity, belongs to Dallas. Other cities that struggle the most with commuter aggravation and cost are San Jose, Calif.; Houston; Miami; Phoenix; Los Angeles; Bridgeport, Conn.; Riverside, Calif.; Austin, Texas; Orlando, Fla.; and Nashville, Tenn.

Dallas had the unfortunate distinction of having one of the nation's longest average commutes (with a combined 52,077,000 miles a day travelled by its rush hour commuters), as well as costly auto expenses ($400) and a high rate of hours delayed (53)."

Arkansas Leads the Way

High-Tech School Bus Teaches Students on the Road: "One school bus in Arkansas’ Pope County has been transformed into a mobile classroom equipped with computer screens mounted to the ceiling, earphone jacks, wireless Internet access and a separate scanning device to record bus activity.

The five 19-inch customized computer screens stream math and science content from PBS, NASA, the Discovery Channel, CBS News and the Smithsonian Institution for students to watch on their hour-long rides to and from school. The screens also include video-conferencing capabilities."

Bury Me the Head of King Henry IV

Severed Head of France's King Henry IV to Be Buried: "The severed head of King Henry IV of France is to be laid to rest -- four centuries after his death, according to a report published Wednesday.

Experts from University Hospital R. Poincare in Garches, France, used modern techniques including radiocarbon-dating and digital reconstruction to prove that a mummified head and its brain contents, long presumed to be that of the king, were really his."

Bob Feller, R. I. P.

Hall of Famer Bob Feller dies at 92: "Teenage pitching sensation, World War II hero, outspoken Hall of Famer and local sports treasure. Bob Feller was all of them.

One of a kind, he was an American original.

Blessed with a right arm that earned the Iowa farmboy the nickname 'Rapid Robert' and made him one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, Feller, who left baseball in the prime of his career to fight for his country, died Wednesday night. He was 92."

One of my childhood idols, certainly one of the best pitchers ever.

10 Biggest Robberies of The Decade

10 Biggest Robberies of The Decade (2000-2010)

The Dead

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oklahoma Leads the Way

Christmas Stinks After Skunk Sprays Donations For Needy Families - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |: "Close to 800 children may be without Christmas toys and gifts after a skunk got into a donation storage facility for a McClain County charity."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Interesting Post on "Blow-Up" and Art

Corpse from "Blow-Up" speaks!

Food Fight!

Mayor who got into food fight will not be charged | L.A. NOW | Los Angeles Times: "Authorities have decided not to file charges against the former mayor of San Gabriel, who resigned in October after getting arrested in connection with an alleged altercation with a female companion.
[. . . .]
Huang had been facing possible charges of felony robbery, assault and battery related to the October incident. Huang was having a late-night snack with Chen at the New Taste Dumpling House in San Gabriel when the two allegedly began bickering. She threw a steamer of dumplings at him; he poured a plate of vinegar on her.

Then the couple took the fight outside, with Huang allegedly snatching her purse and trying to drive off. The dramatic moment came when a security guard across Valley Boulevard gave chase after reportedly spotting Huang speeding off in his SUV with his lady friend clinging to the side."

Hat tip to Fred Zackel.

No Comment Department

Syfy launches Syfy Films, but won't catapult 'Mega Shark' to the big screen. Aw, why not? | PopWatch | "As an unyielding fan of all Syfy films, no matter how insufferable they may be (Megaquake, Ice Twisters, the list goes on… ), I became inappropriately excited when I read this morning that the network would be teaming with Universal to create Syfy Films. The new company, according to Variety, would “develop Syfy-branded content for the big screen.”

[. . . .] Syfy films will support a higher breed of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror films. “The budget for these films would be higher than our TV movies, so [they will ] not [be] of the same ilk,” a rep from the network told EW."

I've Seen None of These

The 15 worst films of 2010 | Film | The A.V. Club

Marie Antoinette Would Not Approve

France24 - Part of Versailles Palace to become luxury hotel: "It’s a sumptuous historical monument, a wildly popular tourist attraction, and a symbol of French monarchy and decadence.

Now the Palace of Versailles is getting ready to add to its list of functions: preparations are underway for a Belgian company to turn The Hotel du Grand Controle, traditionally home to the palace’s treasurers, into a luxury hotel."

Stay off His Lawn!

Pensioner shoots dead teen intruder - The Local: "A 77-year-old pensioner shot and killed one of five masked intruders in his Lower Saxony home, police said on Tuesday. The other four burglars remain on the loose."

Here's the Plot for Your Next Cooking-Themed Mystery Novel

Report: TV chef planned killing of wife for love - Yahoo! News: "The TV celebrity chef known as the 'Calorie Commando' had cooked up quite a plot: He would attend a party for his latest cookbook, 'The Love Diet,' while two homeless hitmen murdered his wife of 17 years.

The bizarre murder-for-hire plan was foiled when the would-be killers tipped off police.

What made the plot even stranger was what Juan-Carlos Cruz told police. He said he did it for love.

'Even though I was planning on whacking her, I'm very devoted. I know that's weird,' Cruz told police when he was arrested."

Well, Whatever

Americans find 'whatever' most annoying word for second year in a row | Herald Sun: "For the second year in a row, Americans ranked 'whatever' as the most annoying word or phrase used in conversation, a Marist Poll released today found.

Thirty-nine per cent of those polled were most irritated by the oft-used 'whatever', while 28 per cent found the term 'like' the most offensive."

Fear Itself?

Christmas ornament causes Pentagon bomb scare - U.S. news - Security - "Authorities shut down the subway station at the Pentagon and diverted hundreds of passengers in frigid temperatures early Wednesday while investigating a suspicious object that turned out to be a blinking Christmas ornament."

Rock On

Rock Hall Announces New Inductees - "Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, Dr. John and Darlene Love are the latest inductees to the pantheon of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the organization will announce on Wednesday morning."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Part 10 of the Top Suspense Group Round Robin Story

Top Suspense Group: The Chase--Part 10

And don't forget the contest. You guys did a great job of clicking through on the links yesterday! I hope you'll keep it up and make me look good to the other members of the group.

The Twelve Days of Bookmas -- Day 11 #12daysbooks

Don't forget about the big contest at BookEnds. If you know the answer, click on the link and leave your answer in the comments to win free books. Or just click on the link to show the agents that I'm a power in the blogosphere. Another incentive is that one of my clues led to the winner the other day. Here's today's puzzle, followed by my clue.

I realized belatedly that many of my questions had to do with my early days in publishing, but few were connected to my life as an agent. So I’ll remedy that today.

When asked how long I’ll dedicate to selling a book, I always tell the story of the little book that could. The book that spent two years sitting on one editor’s desk, when suddenly the call with an offer came. I’ll be honest, I really felt I had run the course with this book and had sort of forgotten about it. I know the author did, too. Needless to say we were wonderfully surprised when that call came.

What is the title of the book and who is the author?

My clue: Hold still, Sylvester, and take your medicine.

And Stay off Her Damn Lawn!

1968 Playmate's Gun -- Roman Polanski Connection | "Roman Polanski was just dragged into the case involving a 1968 Playboy Playmate who recently shot her husband in the back -- we're told, officials believe Polanski may have given her the gun ... 40 years ago."


Bud Clifton (David Stacton), Let Him Go Hang, Ace, 1961

The Horror! The Horror!

Waldorf-Astoria Bumps Guests for King Abdullah’s Entourage - "Reluctantly, the Morgans accepted the Waldorf’s offer of alternate accommodations, including a free night’s stay, at the nearby Hilton New York. But the world-famous Waldorf was supposed to be the highlight of the trip, she said. “They assured us the Hilton was just as nice, but come on, there were people in the elevators at the Hilton carrying pizza boxes.”"

Today's Western Movie Poster

The Top 14 Astronomy Pictures of 2010

The Top 14 Astronomy Pictures of 2010 | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine

Amazing, one and all.

On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Stand up, Badgers, Sing!

Naked postman's special delivery to 'cheer woman up' | Courier Mail: "A POSTMAN says he simply wanted to cheer up a woman on his mail rounds who seemed 'stressed out' but, upon further review, admits delivering the mail in the nude probably wasn't such a good idea.

A police report says the 52-year-old man told the woman he would deliver the mail to her office in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, completely naked to make her laugh."

Here's the Plot for Your Next Serial Killer Thriller

Second man pushed onto L tracks in Oak Park - Chicago Sun-Times: "For the second time in five weeks, a man was pushed onto the tracks at the Marion Street Green Line L stop over the weekend."

Croc Update (Vegetarian Edition)

Ancient vegetarian crocodile fossil unearthed - Science Fair: Science and Space News - "Crocodiles came in all shape and sizes in ancient times, including an 80 million-year-old pig-nosed, thick-skinned species that lived the humble life of a vegetarian.

The four-foot-long creature possessed grazer's teeth, a tank-like body and a short stubby tail. Most likely, they lived lives more like an armadillo's than a conventional crocodile's. Dubbed Simosuchus clarki, the species was first unearthed in 2000, and now appears fully described in a supplement to the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology."

This is apparently not the same croc mentioned here.

The Shop Around the Corner

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Parent Upset After Son Stapled To School Wall - Education News Story - KSAT San Antonio: "A group of students have been removed from campus and a teacher placed on administrative leave after a report of a student stapled to the wall at Carrizo Springs High School."

Here's the Plot for Your Next Casino Heist Thriller

Armed Motorcycle Bandit Nabs $1.5M in Vegas Heist | NBC Los Angeles: "Las Vegas police released surveillance photos Tuesday of an armed casino bandit who escaped the Bellagio with $1.5 million worth of gambling chips.

'The suspect, wearing a full-face motorcycle helmet, entered the casino and went directly to a craps table. He pulled a gun, told everyone not to move and took approximately $1.5 million worth of casino chips,' according to a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department news release."

James Reasoner Interviews James Reasoner

Sea Minor: Dancing With Myself: JAMES REASONER interviews JAMES REASONER

Part 11 of Patti Abbott's Round Robin Story Challenge

My Year In Crime: La Ronde - Problems in the Final Act

Winter's Bone

It's been more than two years since I wrote a post about Winter's Bone, the novel by Daniel Woodrell. It's a short, spare novel. The film, which I watched recently, is as faithful an adaptation as anybody could have hoped for. It's set in the Ozarks, and it's about blood kin and mountain ways and family and an outlaw culture that's alien to many of us who live a very different kind of life.

The narrative is straight as an arrow. Ree Dolly's father, Jesse, has put up his house and land as bond. If he doesn't show up in court, the property is forfeit. Without it, Ree can't keep her family (younger brother and sister, damaged mother) together and take care of them. She has to find her father or prove he's dead, and she sets out to do it. It's a hard, brutal job, but Ree's not easily dissuaded.

Jennifer Lawrence gives what used to be called a star-making performance as Ree, but the rest of the cast is fine, too, particularly John Hawkes as her uncle, Teardrop, and Dale Dickey as Merab. If you remember her as the prostitute from My Name is Earl, her performance might be revelation. It was for me.

A fine, moving film. Check it out.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

This time in tomb raiding.

Tomb raiders sought after 400 brass urns sold to Harris County scrap yard | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "Seven alleged grave robbers are wanted for stealing 400 brass urns last month from a North Harris County cemetery and cashing them in as scrap metal."

The Twelve Days of Bookmas -- Day 10 #12daysbooks

Don't forget about the big contest at BookEnds. If you know the answer, click on the link and leave your answer in the comments to win free books. Or just click on the link to show the agents that I'm a power in the blogosphere. Another incentive is that one of my clues led to the winner the other day. Here's today's puzzle, followed by my clue.

When I first started working in the book publishing industry I was star struck and awed by all of the amazing authors I would see in the office or at signings. I had this grand idea that I would start a collection of signed books that could be passed down through my family for generations. As the years went by, my interest in building this big book collection waned. Don’t get me wrong. I still have a huge collection of books. And I certainly treasure the ones that are signed to me by my clients or authors that I worked with when I was an editor. But I’m no longer interested in building a collection for the collection’s sake.

Still there’s a few books in the mini-collection I started that stand out for me:

The first was a book written by an actor I’d watched in a short-run TV series in the 80s. It’s the first signing/reading I ever went to. I was in NYC for my Putnam Berkley internship and I saw that this actor would be signing his book at the local Barnes & Noble. It was one of my first big-city excursions. Now I look at that book and totally crack up.

Another is a first edition hardcover with a note to me from the author. I was the assistant to his editor at the time and he remains one of my all-time favorite writers.

Then there’s the book that was a gift from my mother. When she knew I was eager to build this collection she bought a signed copy of this book by an author I’d grown up reading from a NYC bookstore.

And finally there’s the only signed book I actually purchased from a book dealer. All of the other books in my collection had been gifts or I’d had signed in person. This book — by one of my favorites — felt more like an “investment” in my collection.

Can you guess the titles and authors of these four books?

Okay, these have gotten very tricky. Here are my clues: #1 Don't monkey around with this guy; #2 Hanging chads; #3 Lots of song titles come to mind; #4 Horatio's farewell

The Ten Most Popular Movie Trailers of 2010

The Ten Most Popular Movie Trailers of 2010

Part 9 of the Top Suspense Group Round Robin Story

Top Suspense Group: The Chase--Part 9

And don't forget the contest. I have it on good authority that you guys aren't clicking through from my blog. Come on, help me out. Click the links and read the story!


William R. Cox, Hell to Pay, Signet, 1958

No Comment Department

Pat-downs anger RDU fliers - Travel - "After an agent groped around his genitals from in front and from behind, Ely challenged him to explain what sort of anomaly had turned up on his full-body scan.

'He said there was something suspicious hanging from between my legs,' Ely, 63, wrote in his RDU online comment."

It'll Probably Be An Oprah Pick

Brooklyn cop pens Christmas novel, hopes major publisher takes interest: "He's a tough Brooklyn cop on a mission - to sell his heartwarming Christmas novel about his years in the 67th Precinct in Flatbush.

Lt. Dave Siev, a 19-year police vet, is calling in every favor he ever earned to get his book read - and bought by a major publisher.

'It's really like nothing you've ever read before,' said Siev of his nearly 200-page book, called 'Operation: Blue Christmas.'"

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Donald E. Westlake Update

A Storyteller That Got the Details Right - Do The Math: "[T]his list annotates all of Donald E. Westlake's major fiction, his lone book of reportage, and three important essays."

A Contest at Beat to a Pulp

The Education of a Pulp Writer: Guess Who and Win a Free Book

You'll have to click the link to read the rules and enter.

Today's Western Movie Poster

So Don't Worry, Be Happy

Over long haul, money doesn’t buy happiness: "Across a worldwide sample of 37 countries, rich and poor, ex-Communist and capitalist, Easterlin and his co-authors shows strikingly consistent results: over the long term, a sense of well-being within a country does not go up with income."

They'll Drive that Steam Mill Down

My Way News - 'Jeopardy!' to pit humans against IBM machine: "The game show 'Jeopardy!' will pit man versus machine this winter in a competition that will show how successful scientists are in creating a computer that can mimic human intelligence.

Two of the venerable game show's most successful champions - Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter - will play two games against 'Watson,' a computer program developed by IBM's artificial intelligence team. The matches will be spread over three days that will air Feb. 14-16, the game show said on Tuesday."

Okay, You Guys, 'Fess Up

Leia Carrie-d on with 'nerd' fans | The Sun |News: "STAR Wars legend Carrie Fisher today admitted SLEEPING with fans obsessed with Princess Leia — saying: 'Nerds will surprise you.'"

Croc Update (Danger Edition)

Crocodiles 168 times more dangerous than sharks - English "The fears connected with shark attacks are stronger in the world today than those related to much more dangerous predators - crocodiles. However, crocodiles pose a greater threat to humans than sharks do."

Texas Is Barely in the Running

The 50 Druggiest Colleges

Bad Santa

Monday, December 13, 2010

And the Old Sense of Wonder Comes Back to Life

The wind is no longer at Voyager’s back | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine: "But the probe is still moving outward at 60,000 kph (38,000 mph). In a few more years it’ll leave the heliosheath behind, and when that happens it will truly be in interstellar space, the vast and nearly empty region between the stars. At that moment it will be the first human device ever to truly leave the solar system and enter the great stretches of the galaxy beyond."

Ian Fleming Update

Jamaican Airport Named After Ian Fleming - GalleyCat: "Author Ian Fleming will be honored with his very own airport. Jamaica is set to name its third international airport after the novelist who created James Bond.

Here’s more from Air & Business Travel News: “Previously known as the Boscobel Airstrip, the upgraded and expanded Ian Fleming airport will mainly be used by travellers flying in on private jets. The official opening of the airport, which now features a passenger lounge, pilot briefing room and customs and immigration points, is due this month.”"

Hat tip to Fred Zackel.

Needle Mag of Noir Winter 2010 Issue Now Available

Needle Mag of Noir Winter 2010 Issue by Steve Weddle in Mystery & Crime: "Needle - Magazine of Noir is a tri-annual publication featuring tales of murder and mayhem. New fiction by Graham Powell, Matthew C. Funk, Sophie Littlefield, Graham Bowlin, Michael Gonzales, Kieran Shea, Richard Godwin, Anthony Neil Smith, Matthew Mayo, Matthew McBride, and Libby Cudmore. And featuring PART ONE of the new novel by Ray Banks -- WOLF TICKETS."

Bill Visits Santa

Hat tip to Gerard Saylor.

Archaeology Update

2400-year-old pot of soup found in China: "Chinese archaeologists believe they have discovered a 2,400-year-old pot of soup, sealed in a bronze cooking vessel and dug up near the ancient capital of Xian, state press said Monday."

The Twelve Days of Bookmas -- Day 9 #12daysbooks

Don't forget about the big contest at BookEnds. If you know the answer, click on the link and leave your answer in the comments to win free books. Or just click on the link to show the agents that I'm a power in the blogosphere. Another incentive is that one of my clues led to the winner the other day. Here's today's puzzle, followed by my clue.

I feel really lucky that I’m working a job I don’t just love, but have a real passion for. When I think back to the girl who smuggled novels behind textbooks in class or spent Saturday mornings with a book instead of cartoons, I think that girl should work in publishing. Lucky for her she does. In fact, I’m that person who says that if I win the lottery I would still work, because what else could I possibly do that I love more?

When I really think about it, though, if I had to give up publishing, there is one job I would like to consider doing, although I don’t know that I’d truly have the patience for it. What is that job?

My clue: Nom nom nom.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

10 Infamous Cases of Wrongful Execution

Top 10 Franchises

Three of which I never heard of.

The Franchise 500's Top 10

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Part 8 of the Top Suspense Group Round Robin Story

Top Suspense Group: The Chase--Part 8

And don't forget the contest. Have you figured out which episodes I wrote? Or maybe only one of them has appeared. I forget. Anyway, have fun.


David V. Reed, The Thing that Made Love (aka The Metal Monster Murders), Uni Books, no date

You Be the Judge

Woodhenge: Is this one of the greatest discoveries of archaeology...or a simple farmer's fence?

Today's Western Movie Poster

Internet Firsts

The First on the World Wide Web | A Platform to Express Your Ideas and Thoughts | fortystones: "To create anything needs a lot of imagination but to be the very first to show something new to the world needs a bit of courage and a whole lot of determination. Various improvements can be made to any given product but to be the very first in any field carries a permanent distinction. As a tribute to all the great pioneers here is a list of the Firsts in the History of Internet"

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

As Mexico drug violence runs rampant, U.S. guns tied to crime south of border: "No other state has produced more guns seized by police in the brutal Mexican drug wars than Texas. In the Lone Star State, no other city has more guns linked to Mexican crime scenes than Houston."

Deal 'Em

Poker Jolt: Poker News: "The World Poker Tour has released it's promo video for the Season IX TV series...and it looks like poker is about to get a whole let wetter, sorry, better.
[. . . .]
But by far the most exciting development for WPT Season IX is the introduction of the Royal Flush Girls to the TV show - with the promise of non-stop bikini-packed action."

If You Must Give a Tie this Christmas, . .

. . . make it this one.

There Can Be Only One

Teen with swords arrested after taking nursery school kids hostage in France

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Sheriff Rhodes would never act this way.

Calvert's police chief, officers quit | Bryan/College Station, Texas - The Eagle: "The town of Calvert was left without a police force late Friday, following the resignation of its chief and its only two patrol officers.
[. . . .]
Greaves said Kuhn also handed in resignations from the town's two patrol officers. He said the news was unexpected but hinted it may have stemmed from discussions about overtime or holiday pay."

Hat tip to Lawrence Person.

Those Lovely Holiday Traditions from Around the World

This is very strange.
Hat tip to Art Scott.

Caganer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "In Catalonia, as well as in Spain and in most of Italy and Southern France, traditional Christmas decorations consist of a large model of the city of Bethlehem, similar to the Nativity scenes of the English-speaking world but encompassing the entire city rather than just the typical manger scene. The caganer is a particular feature of modern Catalan nativity scenes, . . ."

A Christmas Carol

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Somewhere Dan Brown is Smiling

Real-life Da Vinci Code: Tiny numbers and letters discovered on the Mona Lisa | Mail Online: "Intrigue is usually focused on her enigmatic smile.

But the Mona Lisa was at the centre of a new mystery yesterday after art detectives took a fresh look at the masterpiece – and noticed something in her eyes.

Hidden in the dark paint of her pupils are tiny letters and numbers, placed there by the artist Leonardo da Vinci and revealed only now thanks to high-magnification techniques."

Top 10 TV Shows of 2010

Emily Nussbaum's Top 10 TV Shows of 2010 - The 2010 Culture Awards -- New York Magazine: "Next up, a quintet of terrific, wildly varying series: I’ve put Terriers—a failing-in-the-ratings noir experiment—high enough for you to notice it; if it’s canceled by the time this list comes out, I’ll be weeping into my whiskey."

Don Winslow Podcast Interview

031 Reading and Writing podcast – Don Winslow interview

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Ancient Tiger-Sized Predator Unearthed in Texas - Yahoo! News: "Paleontologists have unearthed a nearly complete fossil of a dimetrodon, a reptile-like predator that roamed the Permian landscape 287 million years ago.

This weekend, the team is working to transport the 400-pound animal's torso from its resting place in north Texas to Houston, where the fossil will be prepped for display in the newly renovated Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) paleontology hall in 2012.

Famous for the enormous fin on its back, dimetrodon is often mistaken for a dinosaur, although dimetrodons pre-dated dinos by millions of years. The creature could easily pass as a reptile, but dimetrodon wasn't precisely reptilian, either: It was a synapsid, a category that includes modern mammals. Think of dimetrodon as a very distant, very toothy cousin."

Check Out This Review

Shooter’s Cross by Colby Jackson

The second Rancho Diablo story will soon be available, too. Don't miss out on this great western series.

Part 7 of the Top Suspense Group Round Robin Story

Top Suspense Group: The Chase--Part 7

And don't forget the contest. Have you figured out which episodes I wrote? Or maybe only one of them has appeared. I forget. Anyway, have fun.


James Duff, Some Die Young, Graphic, 1956

No Comment Department

'Jackass' gets book banned in Mass. - "Two Massachusetts school districts rejected a book meant to encourage youngsters to read because of its offending last line -- 'It's a book, jackass.'"

Pocket Books 1989

I've read a surprising number of these.

Today's Western Movie Poster

A Dragnet Christmas


No Comment Department

Adults blame parents for education problems - Yahoo! News: "Blaming teachers for low test scores, poor graduation rates and the other ills of American schools has been popular lately, but a new survey wags a finger closer to home.

An Associated Press-Stanford University Poll on education found that 68 percent of adults believe parents deserve heavy blame for what's wrong with the U.S. education system — more than teachers, school administrators, the government or teachers unions."

Here's the Plot for Your Next Dismemberment Thriller

Couple held in dismemberment of man at L.A. hotel [Updated] | L.A. NOW | Los Angeles Times: "A couple wanted for allegedly killing and dismembering a man at a downtown Los Angeles hotel were arrested Friday, authorities said."

Die Hard